Jobseeker’s Allowance – A Guide

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The main benefit for people of working age who are out of work or work less than 16 hours a week on average.
Universal Credit (UL) is now replacing Jobseeker’s Allowance in phases.

If you’re eligible, it is paid while you’re looking for work. Find out more, including how to apply online.

See also:
Universal Credit – A Guide
Benefit Rates

Who can get Jobseeker’s Allowance?

To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you must be:

  • available for, capable and actively seeking work
  • aged 18 or over but below State Pension age
  • working less than 16 hours per week on average
  • in Great Britain

Jobseeker’s Allowance isn’t normally paid to 16 or 17 year olds, except in special cases.

If you’re a man who has reached the Pension Credit qualifying age, you may be able to claim Pension Credit. Contact Jobcentre Plus for advice. The Pension Credit qualifying age is gradually increasing for men and women from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020.

How it works

There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance, ‘contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance’ and ‘income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance’.

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobcentre Plus can pay this for up to 182 days. It’s based on how much National Insurance you have paid in the last two tax years. Generally, self-employed contributions will not help you qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

This is based on your income and savings. You may get this if you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions (NICs) (or you’ve only paid contributions for self-employment) and you’re on a low income.

Please read ‘National Insurance’ for more information about National Insurance contributions.

How to claim

If you’ve claimed before

If you have stopped getting Jobseeker’s Allowance in the last 26 weeks and want to claim the same type again, call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688.

Claim online

Claim by phone

Call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688.

There’s a Welsh language line on 0800 012 1888, and a textphone 0800 023 4888 if you find it hard to speak or hear clearly.

Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm.

What happens next


Attending the Jobcentre

When you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, you’ll need to attend an interview at the Jobcentre. An adviser will help you draw up a ‘jobseeker’s agreement’. This will set out the steps you agree to take to find work.

To keep getting benefit you’ll have to attend regular jobsearch reviews, usually every fortnight. There’s a longer review if you’ve been getting benefit for 13 weeks.

How much do I get

see: Benefit Rates

If you think the decision is wrong

If Jobcentre Plus decides that you can’t get Jobseeker’s Allowance and you think this decision is wrong, you can appeal.

Changes in your circumstances

You must tell Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible about any changes in your circumstances, as it may affect your benefit.

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